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  • Author or Editor: Jason K. Ward x
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Skinning of sweetpotato (Ipomoea batatas) storage roots is one of the greatest concerns of sweetpotato producers. Although skinning injury is very common, the severity of the injury can vary widely. At an undefined threshold, sweetpotatoes with skinning injury are no longer sold for fresh consumption. The objectives of this study were to examine how skinning injury influences consumers’ willingness-to-pay (WTP) for sweetpotatoes and to identify differences in valuations when the extent of skinning injury is labeled. Image analysis was used to quantify skinning injury and then an incentive-compatible, nonhypothetical laboratory experimental auction was conducted to collect data on consumers’ WTP for five categories of sweetpotatoes: 0% to <1% skinning injury, 1.0% to 3.0%, 3.1% to 5.0%, 5.1% to 7.5%, and 7.6% to 10.0%. On average, consumers were willing to pay the most for sweetpotatoes with 0% to <1% skinning injury (up to $1.51/lb to $1.67/lb) and the least for sweetpotatoes with 7.6% to 10% (up to $0.76/lb to $0.85/lb), yet mean WTP values were nonzero for all skinning levels. Moreover, when the extent of skinning was labeled (relative to when they bid blindly), consumers were willing to pay price premiums for sweetpotatoes with low skinning injury levels (0% to 5%) and discounted sweetpotatoes with the highest skinning injury level (7.6% to 10.0%), suggesting that skinning levels of 7.6% and above may not be acceptable by consumers.

Open Access

Pumpkins (Cucurbita sp.) grown in North Carolina are a nascent specialty crop that has only risen to a national production level in the past 10 years. There are only general cultural management guidelines for this region, resulting in variation in plant density and inefficient production. Production field studies of the cultivar Kratos were conducted to investigate the impact of plant density and row width on marketable yield and individual fruit size for large carving pumpkins. Plant densities of 2691, 3588, 5382, and 10,764 plants per hectare with row widths of 1.5 and 3.0 m were grown in 2020 and 2021 in North Carolina. Data regarding fruit size, fruit size variance, and yield per area were collected. Fruit size in terms of weight, length, and diameter increased as plant density decreased. There was no difference in fruit size variation between plant densities and row widths. The fruit number per hectare and fruit weight per hectare increased as plant density increased, with the highest production at 10,764 plants per hectare. For years combined, reducing the row width from 3.0 to 1.5 m increased the fruit weight and diameter, but not the length. Additionally, the 1.5-m row width produced more fruit weight per hectare than the 3.0-m row width for both years. Growers can optimize fruit weight per area and fruit number per area by using a density of 10,764 plants per hectare. Overall, using a row width distance that is more equidistant to the in-row spacing promotes higher fruit yield and larger fruit size.

Open Access